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Toddler bears brunt of poll violence in Bengal

Kolkata : A three-and-half-year-old girl was beaten up alongside other members of her family allegedly by masked men to deter them from voting in the fourth phase of the West Bengal assembly polls on Monday.

The incident took place on Sunday night in North 24 Parganas’ Halisahar, which comes under Bijpur, one of the 49 constituencies which went to the polls on the day.

“Several masked men barged into the house armed with sticks and attacked us. When I tried to intervene, they abused me and assaulted me, warning all of us not to vote. They did not even spare my daughter,” said the toddler’s mother.

Yet to overcome the trauma of the attack, the child described how she was beaten up.

“They beat me here,” said the child pointing to her hand.

Undeterred by the attack and warnings of being “shot dead”, the woman carrying her little girl cast her vote.

“When they attacked me, my family, even my baby daughter, we had said we will not vote. But they have attacked us once, and now they will attack us again. So it’s better to get beaten after exercising my right,” said the woman after casting her vote.

The Election Commission took cognizance of the matter and police subsequently arrested two people.

“In Bijpur police station, a case was lodged at 12.30 a.m. on Monday for assaulting Titu Samajpati and his grand daughter and attacking their house.

“Investigation is going on and two people have been arrested,” said Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Anuj Mitra.

While the family said they could not identify the attackers, the Communist Party of India-Marxist accused the ruling Trinamool Congress of being behind it.

Condemning the attack, CPI-M state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra said the family was attacked as the child’s father was a Left Front polling agent.

“Even a three-and-half-year-old child is not spared by Trinamool goons, his father is a Left polling agent. We salute the brave mother. We stand with all our might by this indomitable family,” he said.

Accusing the Trinamool of targeting even babies, elderly and women, Mishra said the “attacks were a reflection of the Trinamool’s frustration at losing ground”.